We conducted a comprehensive metabolic phenotyping of potato (Solanum tuberosum L. cv Desiree) tuber tissue that had been modified either by transgenesis or exposure to different environmental conditions using a recently developed gas chromatography-mass spectrometry profiling protocol. Applying this technique, we were able to identify and quantify the major constituent metabolites of the potato tuber within a single chromatographic run. The plant systems that we selected to profile were tuber discs incubated in varying concentrations of fructose, sucrose, and mannitol and transgenic plants impaired in their starch biosynthesis. The resultant profiles were then compared, first at the level of individual metabolites and then using the statistical tools hierarchical cluster analysis and principal component analysis. These tools allowed us to assign clusters to the individual plant systems and to determine relative distances between these clusters; furthermore, analyzing the loadings of these analyses enabled identification of the most important metabolites in the definition of these clusters. The metabolic profiles of the sugar-fed discs were dramatically different from the wild-type steady-state values. When these profiles were compared with one another and also with those we assessed in previous studies, however, we were able to evaluate potential phenocopies. These comparisons highlight the importance of such an approach in the functional and qualitative assessment of diverse systems to gain insights into important mediators of metabolism
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